mon 22/04/2024

The Lone Ranger | reviews, news & interviews

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and Johnny Depp make for a surprisingly fun film

The spirit horse speaks to Tonto (Depp) in 'The Lone Ranger'

Kemosabe, The Lone Ranger is fun. Despite its star and producer blaming American critics for poor box office stateside, this film is Pirates of the Caribbean on horseback - and that's the Pirates franchise before it bloated in 2007.

There is a lot of good in The Lone Ranger, starting with Armie Hammer. Perfectly cast as John Reid, he’s the long, tall and handsome lawyer whose rough-hewn brother Dan (James Badge Dale) is the town’s ranger and husband to the gal John loves (Ruth Wilson). Coming upon a strange Native American called Tonto, John puts him in jail, only to meet him again in a beautiful sequence of zinging bullets, falling horses and snipers. It’s a scene that wouldn’t be out of place in a serious western like Unforgiven. Here, it cements us to Reid’s call to justice.

Within this planned franchise starter, there is one truly magical moment that will turn the audience to gooseflesh

Framed by a Night at the Museum-style set piece, Depp is a Native American exhibit talking to a young boy dressed as The Lone Ranger. It works – and it also covers plot holes as the boy asks, “Where did you get those explosives from?” His profile striking in the crazy bird-headed concept makeup based on a Kirby Sattler painting called I Am Crow, Depp makes Tonto an amalgam of Jay Silverheels (American TV’s adored original Tonto) and Jack Sparrow.

The script from Pirates writers Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio and Man Booker prize nominee and Revolutionary Road scripter Justin Haythe is an offbeat blend of heartbreak, action, drama and jokes (”He was gonna violate me with a duck foot”). Yet, The Lone Ranger has a vein of horror. Beloved characters get picked off. We have to wait to see who is bad among Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper and Helena Bonham Carter (with a steampunk scrimshaw leg, shades of Wild Wild West). (Pictured below: Helena Bonham Carter as Red Harrington).

The cake-topper in evil is the immaculate William Fichtner (Elysium) playing the stomach-churning Butch Cavendish, a guy so bad you’ll stop eating your popcorn. He kills Dan Reid in a terrible way. That, along with the grim message of native slaughter accompanied by utterances from the chief that his people are “already ghosts”, make it tough to see Depp hamming it up in the next scene: it’s like being punched then tickled. So, is The Lone Ranger a comedy or a tragedy? Both, especially if it ends up costing Disney negative $190m as pundits suggest. Hi-yo, Silver away indeed. (The film has already out-earned John Carter, however.)

Visually and aurally, the production is superb. Hans Zimmer provides sumptuous, fresh music. Innovative stunts of which Buster Keaton would have approved deflect from moments of unsettling DI/CGI (have we learned nothing from Luhrmann’s bendy-legged horses in Australia?). Superior production design by Oscar-nominated Jess Gonchor and superb cinematography from Bojan Bazelli (King of New York) lift some of the more contrived set pieces. It's like Wild Wild West (1999), only better.

Within this planned franchise starter, there is one truly magical moment that will turn the audience to gooseflesh. About three-quarters of the way through, the music comes up and the editing kicks in and... even the most cynical will get a thrill up their spine not felt since childhood. That, my friends, is the effect of proper filmmaking. Hi-yo, Silver and then some.

Watch the trailer for The Lone Ranger overleaf


The script is an offbeat blend of heartbreak, action, drama and jokes


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Surprised there's been so little noise about Johnny Depp playing a Native American. Was the 'whiteface' getup chosen because 'redface' would have been a bit, well 'red face' in this day and age?

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